Slave Lake council asks for resignation of MLA Pat Rehn in open letter

An open letter penned to an Alberta MLA is asking for his resignation.

Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman said he and the six councillors have “lost all faith” in Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn.

“At this point we kind of feel… what do we have to lose?” Warman said. “There is an overwhelming feeling amongst the elected leaders and the people who live here that he has lost [our confidence].”

Rehn recently lost his legislature committee responsibilities after it was confirmed he engaged in non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Warman said council did not pen the letter lightly. The letter, addressed to Rehn and posted online Jan. 5, detailed numerous grievances, including that he doesn’t live in the constituency, doesn’t spend a lot of time there and missing or being underprepared for meetings.

“Since your election, you have spent more physical time managing your business in Texas than being physically present in our region,” the letter reads.

“I don’t think any of this should surprise him,” Warman told Global News. “Our people need to be represented.”

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On Tuesday evening, a message was posted on Rehn’s professional Facebook page:

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“Recently, I made some poor choices around travel, for which I have taken full responsibility,” it read in part.

“It’s disappointing to see some municipal officials seizing on this to try and sow political division at this difficult time.

“To be clear, I have residences in Slave Lake and Edmonton. I do not own any property in Texas whatsoever. Yes, I do continue to own businesses – businesses that are fully disclosed and compliant with Alberta’s Ethics Commissioner. And yes, I have needed to travel to Texas within the past year to address essential business matters. I, of course, complied with all health requirements when doing so.”

Warman said the council has voiced concern to the provincial government and to ministers numerous times.

“It is obvious his passion lies somewhere else. We don’t take this decision lightly,” Warman said.

“We have expressed our frustrations verbally to him. We have sent it in writing previously. We are fed up.”

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Warman said he feels less confident in the MLA after Premier Jason Kenney stripped Rehn, along with other MLAs, of legislature committee responsibilities.

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“Realistically, having an MLA that now has less to do with government, who’s less engaged and less involved… we’re going from nothing to maybe even two steps back from nothing.”

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Warman said he hopes Rehn will take the request seriously.

“He’s not around. He’s not engaged. He doesn’t understand the needs of this region. Our people deserve better.

“We just want him to step aside and let someone who has the passion to do it to represent us. We need it.”

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However, Rehn’s Facebook message indicates he’s not resigning.

“It is the honour of a lifetime to represent a region I have lived and worked in since I bought my first quarter-section of trees and also my first sawmill in Wabasca using every penny I had in the bank,” he wrote.

“I will continue representing Lesser Slave Lake — the region I love and call home.”

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